• PM To Join • Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

Oram knows how to read. Now he needs to learn how to research

Once an isolated and dying township, an influx of academics, adventurers and thrill seekers have made Scalvoris Town their home. From scholars' tea shops to a new satellite campus for Viden Academy, this is an exciting place to visit or make your home!

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Oram Mednix
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Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

2 Ashan 721

With the magic glasses that Saoire had given Oram, reading books was not hard. But finding specific things you wanted in them was. Very hard. Tiring. Confusing. And worst of all, time-consuming.

Oram was no stranger to waiting, allowing time to pass in order to have something useful finally happen. Nor was he a stranger to protracted pursuits of or searches for things. But somehow, when the entire area of search was confined to a small shelf, it was on a whole different level of frustrating to the hunter to have his quarry prove so elusive.

The book on the Sands of Scalvoris that Professor Deadnut had lent him had contained a tantalizing reference to the “Power Beneath” which the author, the late Baron von Smooglenuff, had speculated played a role in the sand’s emergence on the surface of the islands. No, not just played a role. That the sand was somehow a manifestation of that power. Oram wasn’t sure what the Baron had meant by “manifestation”, and of course the man was no longer around to ask.

Oram had looked through all the books he had that he thought might have a reference to the “Power Beneath”. His brother Osric had suggested looking for the phrase in the tables of contents (in those books that had them, which was most of them) and indexes (in the books that had them, which most of them didn’t). He had pursued this, and every other method his unschooled mind could think of over the last couple trials and come up empty. There were only the couple vague and cryptic mentions of the “Power Beneath” and how it related to the sand in the book on Sands. The hunter could find not the slightest trace of further discussion of the concept anywhere else.

Nobody in the camp had been able to help him, not even the Elder in all her wisdom. But Oram was not about to go back to Professor Deadnut and admit defeat; he was determined to find another way, but he needed to find new allies and resources. The Elder had suggested he go to the Scholar’s Nook and ask either the staff or the patrons, who were mostly scholars and students themselves, if they might help. Oram had resisted the idea. He knew almost no one at the University besides the professors he had worked with.

But at long last, enough was enough. He needed help, and he needed to step outside of his comfort zone to get it. So off he marched to the Scholar’s Nook equipped with a confusing book, a confused look, and no real plan to speak of. All he could do was approach the first friendly-seeming face he saw among the staff, explain his plight, and hope that they could help him.
word count: 478
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Perdita Westcott
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

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nowledge had many forms, Perdita knew this. There were people who were street smart ~ she was not one of them. There were those who could read and understand people ~ she was most certainly not one of those, either. Academics, though? That was something Perdita could do. She loved books, she adored research. They held so many secrets, so much information. Perdita knew that there was knowledge in many forms, but she also knew that she still had so very much to learn about it.

Which was why she loved her job.

On this particular trial, Perdita had been researching ways to research. It was a strange thing, she supposed, to be doing. But it was helping her, and she was quite sure that it was also making her a better student. Certainly, it was making her a more efficient student. She was learning more every trial and she was getting better at this. Perdita was getting more and more sure that she was getting better at this.

But she still wasn't good enough. So, she kept learning and studying, because there was so much still to learn. She'd finished with the last pile of books and she was just putting them back when she saw a person in the Nook, looking around and scowling a little, she thought. He looked out of place, and he looked uncomfortable, and Perdita thought that she understood that. Even though her sense of discomfort was for an entirely different reason, she understood that this was a place where discomfort was as easy to feel as comfort was.

She wanted to hide. To go and hide with her books, but Perdita recognised a person who was uncomfortable, who felt they did not belong. And she was not the kind of person who could go and mend books or appraise damage - or even the kind of person who could focus on her own learning of research while allowing someone else to be uncomfortable.

So, she breathed in and she did her best not to blush. She failed, of course, enormously, and yet she walked up to the man she didn't know and she spoke softly. "Hello," she said, her cheeks flaming bright red. "I... I'm.. hello," she tried to smile. "I'm Perdita." She offered her hand to him. Did people do that, she wondered? She maybe should have paid attention in orientation. "Can I help?"

Would she be able to help? She figured if he had an egg that he needed to cook and no handy means of doing so, he could use her cheeks. Damnit but she wished she didn't blush. Of course, that thought caused a simple - and predictable - reaction.
word count: 455
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

I thought this was the book I needed, but it proved to be just the op. cit

Oram was a bit startled when the young woman approached him. Startled and relieved. He had been trying to figure out how to approach somebody and start the conversation he knew he needed to have, and now he didn’t have to worry about that part.

He looked at her hand uncertainly for a trill before taking it. Shaking hands with women was tricky, because you never knew how firm a handshake they were ready for. Not that he was going to crush this Perdita’s hand to show off his strength the way a Groom Peavers would, but some women were startled by a firm handshake, whereas others got offended if you were too gentle and limp.

Realizing he was overthinking this, the hunter just shook her hand, hoping he did it right. ”Well met, I hope, Perdita. I’m Oram.” He cleared his throat awkwardly and withdrew his hand so as to open the book he held in his left one. ”Do you mind? I’ m not a student or a scholar, really. I answered a notice that the Historical Society had put out for people to help with research into local legends. Now, I’m interested in stories myself, and I like learning about them. But Professor Deadnut -do you know him?- gave me this book and this assignment to research legends about the sands around Scalvoris. It’s a really good book, but the more I try to figure out, the more I feel like I bit off a bit more than I could chew.”

Oram looked around for a surface to rest the book on and, spotting a nearby table corner, he withdrew a couple steps to place the book there and open it to the passage that had been vexing him for a trial and more, which he had marked with a strip of paper: the one that mentioned the “power beneath”, and how the Baron von Smooglenuff thought the sands of Scalvoris somehow manifested it. He beckoned for Perdita to come over and look. Realizing he had forgotten something, he snatched his glasses out of his breast pocket and put them on.

”The Baron mentions something about a “power beneath” Scalvoris, but doesn’t explain what he means by that, what he thinks the power is. I have other books by the same guy, and I’ve been hoping there might be more information on what he means by that in one of them.” He shrugged. ”I’m not really a scholar, nor even much of a reader, normally. So I don’t really know how to pursue this. Just reading through each and every book would take too long, and I figure a scholar might know how to do that. Right? I mean, you don’t just read every book on the shelf one at a time from beginning to end until you find what you want, do you? I figure you might give me some idea how to go about this.”

Oram realized, after he had said this, that he had made several assumptions about this Perdita that might not hold. Well, he would just have to hope. So he stood there and waited for her answer hopefully.
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Perdita Westcott
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

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espite her natural shyness, Perdita was fundamentally kind and she smiled at Oram as he shook her hand. He seemed out of place and a little unsure of himself, and she understood that and then some, so she was glad to be able to help. She listened to him, as he spoke and she spoke not at all. But, she smiled when he said well met, she nodded when he asked if she knew Professor Deadnut and she tried to look reassuring when he said that he felt like he'd bitten off more than he could chew.

And then, he explained what his problem was, what he wanted to learn and to understand, and Perdita smiled. "I can help," she said. She didn't know how much, but she could certainly give him tips. "I'm not good," she explained, looking at the book he'd put on the table. "Yet." She would be - and she was better than she thought already. Still, she gestured for him. "Have a seat?" and, as one of the waiting staff came over, she ordered a mug of hot coffee.

She took out a small journal, a hand-made book with a simple leather cover on it. Flicking past a few pages, she came to some blank pages and then, she turned to look at him. "There are two things," she said softly. "One. What you want to find out." On the left-hand side of her journalImage she wrote the words "Specific" and then, underneath it "Power Beneath Scalvoris." Looking at him, she raised an eyebrow to check if this was correct.

"We need to make this less specific," she said, tapping the words. So, a vertical line underneath, to the "Less Specific" "The key words, here," she motioned to the phrase "Power Beneath Scalvoris". In a list underneath "Less Specific" she wrote first "Power" then "Scalvoris". She went slowly, carefully, and checked he was following her. This was her way of doing things, it might not be the most efficient, but it was what she knew best.

"Then, define these words." First, the word "Power". "Something not natural?" Perdita checked. It might be magic, it might be strange phenomena, or even spirits. She wrote those down. Then, it was "Scalvoris". "What subjects?" and there, it was Geography, History, Legends, Nature.

Another level down. "Define each word, again," she said. The first word for power was magic. But what aspects of magic might it be? She wrote down words, thoughts. Did the same for the first word next to "Scalvoris" - namely "Geography. Then, when the left hand side of the journal was written on, she smiled. "Then, the second thing." And for that, she tapped the book. "Your information."

Gesturing to the books around her, she smiled. "We do this, the other way." On the right hand side of her notebook, she wrote "Least Specific". "That might be topics, like Geography" she said. "But then, title." She looked at him and nodded. "Gather twenty books, by title. Then, check the chapters." She hoped she was making sense. "Discard what doesn't help. Then, more specific." Writing on the right-hand side, she finished and then slid the note book to him. "That's what I do," she said. It was strange, she hadn't blushed at all while she was writing, but as soon as she stopped, she flushed red and waited to see if it made no sense, as she feared.
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

Lists, files, column what you like

Oram would get coffee for himself as well, and he would let the waitstaff know that he was paying for both. ”Least I can do for your time,” he explained hastily to Perdita.

The hunter listened intently and wordlessly to what Perdita explained to him. Did he understand? The words? yes. The actions those words described? In general, yes. The why of it? Not at all. But he didn’t stop her. He’d found it was best to watch from beginning to end first, then go back over the steps it once he’d seen it all. As to all the blushing, he barely noticed it, as he was too preoccupied with trying to gather in and make sense of everything Perdita was saying and writing down.

When she handed him the notebook, he peered at it a moment. Oram wasn’t sure what he had been expecting. Actually, that wasn’t true at all. He knew exactly what he had been expecting: he had expected this nice, smart young lady to start rattling off the answer, or the titles of books that contained the answer and just where to find those. And now that he saw what he was getting instead, he realized those expectations had been foolish.

He shook his head and chuckled at himself quietly. then looked back up the helpful woman. ”If I’m understanding you right,” he told her, ”I *could* just go with what you’ve given me. The upshot is, I should gather some books about each of these topics, preferably ones with helpful chapter headings and good indexes.” He grinned sheepishly. ”I know that’s not all you said. I know that’s not all *this* says.” He tapped his finger on the journal notes. ”But that’s the next step, the very next thing I need to do when I get up from this table, right? And once I’ve done that I can go look at the bottom of these lists to get a better idea of what to do after *that*?”

Oram looked at Perdita expectantly to see if he was on the right trail. Then he set the notebook down again. ”When you first started talking, I didn’t know what you were going to say. I didn’t see where you were going with any of this until you got there. I could just take the structure you’ve given me and run with it, I think, to get what I need today. But could you show me again *how* you did it? How you thought things through and came up with the list?”

Oram knew all about turning ideas into plans and plans into structures. It was what he did when he designed and built traps. And he knew how much easier it was to make sense of everything once you’d already been through it all at least once before and had an obvious structure in front of you already.

However Perdita responded, Oram’s next step would be to copy down the list. Then he said: ”Well, obviously, this is going to take me a while to gather together and sift through.” He paused uncertainly for a trill. ”So, I guess my next stop would be to look…where? Here? The Library? Or someplace at the Academy? Where would you go next?” It wasn’t, the hunter knew, just a question of finding a big trove of books. He was sitting in one of those. It was finding a big trove of the right kind of books.
word count: 600
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Perdita Westcott
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

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he hadn't managed to get her point across, she thought. Perdita loved the idea of teaching people, of helping them. But equally, she felt remarkably unqualified and far too likely to say something foolish. But Oram persisted, despite her poor attempt and she smiled and nodded. "Yes," she said, of his next step. She beamed in shy and rather awkward pleasure, though, when he asked her how she'd gotten there.

Perdita thought about it a moment, trying to be clear about her steps. "I make everything as simple as I can," she explained. "You're looking for something very specific," she said. "It might be here. But you need a system, or luck." She smiled. "These books, they're organised by topics." It was true, shelves were labelled and so on. "At the library, too." Tapping the notebook, she smiled. "Nothing as specific as this." She frowned and looked down at the book, then nodded. "I had to know the topics. Then, make the specific information less and less specific." She gestured to the books. "I needed to know which section to look in. So, made the very small topic bigger." Looking around, she nodded at that, because it was what she was doing. "Into the topics the books are in. Any and all."

Thinking about how to give a practical example, Perdita came up with an idea. "If I wanted to find out whether a berry was safe to eat?" She pulled her book over and started to, once again, write. When she had finished, she slid it acrossImage. "You would know which book section to look in, to look for the chapter on small bushes, then to look for a diagram or description of your berry." She gestured to the small section on history. "It isn't likely to be in history, so you won't look there. But natural affairs? Yes."

With a slight frown, she continued. "So, I made the small thing bigger. Until it fitted into topics. Then, I went to the topic and tried to make the big thing - all the books - smaller and smaller." It was a process of elimination, but also of refining things down. "When it's something you know, you skip these steps." She smiled and blushed slightly. "I don't think I'm explaining it well." The information just had to fit, one piece into another. "You might also think about 'if I was writing a book with this in it, what would the chapters be? What would the book be about?' and so on. That doesn't work well for me. But might, for you."

His next question, though, was more clear to her. "Every place it might be." She smiled - realising it wasn't helpful the moment she said it. "Here first, since you're here and it might be here. Then the library. University professors, too, depending on their subject." Then, with a slight smile, she added. "I can help you, here?" But, being who she was and not wanting to make assumptions. "If you'd like." Only if he wanted the help, or felt that he needed and - whatever his answer to that, of course, Perdita's response was to look a little awkward. Sound a little awkward and - inevitably - blush a little.
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Oram Mednix
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

Not to leave the room, even if you come and get him...

Oram groaned inwardly when the young woman went over her process once again. Not because doing so bored or wearied him, but because it pained him to make someone explain someone twice, especially when she was working. He was, however, glad in the end that he had, for he caught things he had not the first time through. When Perdita mentioned topics, Oram sat back and looked sharply at the shelves of books surrounding them, peering at the labels under them.

He held up his right hand then, index finger raised, then looked back and forth between the shelves and the notes Perdita had explained. After a trill he lowered his finger to run it down the left-hand column. ”So this is a list for going from what I’m looking for to where books about it might be shelved…” he then moved his finger across to the right-hand column: ”and this is for figuring out to do with the books themselves once I manage to find them?” He looked up hopefully at the young woman to see if he’d gotten that right. He hated to think she’d feel to explain it again.

The hunter looked back up a the shelves, squinting at the labels on them. ”Do most libraries tend to use the same topics?” he asked. ”So, if I wanted to read more about the Scalvoris mountains, I’d be looking for…” he paused and glanced quickly at the notes, ”…’geography’ and not ‘mountains’? Sounds like it’d be useful to know all the standard topics, if there is such a thing.”

Oram slumped back in his chair and blew out his cheeks. Simply mastering all the topics sounded like a lot of work. Looking across the table at Perdita, he wondered how long it had taken her to even get to know all those topic words so that she could make that left-hand list like that. Glancing down at the list, he scratched his beard and said: ”Okay, so it looks like I’m looking for books on these topics in sections for Geography, Magic…” he frowned: ”…perhaps history or legends, too? Would that be history?”

He nodded gratefully at Perdita when she offered to help him. ”If you could help me find the sections we’re looking for, that’d be great,” he said, ”…and especially if you could help me some more with the magic, because that’s something I know next to nothing about.”
word count: 427
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Perdita Westcott
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

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ad Perdita known that Oram gave an inward sigh, she would have been quick to reassure him. But she did not know, so she maintained her earnest and focused expression as she gave her explanation. He then did the very sensible thing and he checked his understanding. As he did, Perdita's blushes did not abate, but her smile certainly increased. "Yes, exactly that." It was, indeed that and she was delighted that he'd not only understood it, but understood it to the point where he could apply it. That meant that he truly did get what she had tried to explain, the young scholar thought, and she was more than impressed that he had managed to turn her rather unclear explanation into something concrete.

And then he asked a question and Perdita thought about it. "I have limited experience," she said, in order to make sure that he understood she was not any kind of authority. "But mostly yes." Thinking about it, she tried to explain. "Here and Rharne are very similar." She suspected Viden was too, in terms of that. And why? "University towns, university subjects." Considering it, though, she added. "But Desnind was," was what, she wondered. It was different, but not actually that different. "Slightly different?" She tried to put her finger on it and then realised. "Same topics, different focus." That was it. "Engineering was a subject, but focused on that environment." Shrugging slightly, she wasn't quite sure how else to explain it. "There, the herb and gardening section was bigger than the chemistry one." Whichever place one was in, it would have biases, she supposed.

Would legends be history? "That depends," she said, having done some research on just that herself. "Here, legends is a section. Because history is a big section. If it was a small one, legends might be part of it." She was very happy to help him, and knew her way around the Nook, since she worked here and had for a while now. In terms of magic though, she nodded. "It's split into theory and applied, here," she motioned to where the books were. "Applied seems to be about casting, so theory?"

Theories of magic was a small-ish section, but there were plenty of titles. However, that caused an issue. Perdita smiled. "What's ether?" She wondered. Since it was in the titles, she didn't know the word and thus, didn't know if the book was relevant. "When this happens," she said to Oram - and was quick to add - "It happens often." Because it would happen often that technical words were used in titles, and that needed it's own strategy. "I look for a basic guide or beginners book." That would usually, she said, give definitions of a term, and do so in such a way that they would understand it.

So, Perdita helped him. When she got the beginners guide to magic, she frowned. "It says here," she said, sliding it over. "That ether is everywhere. Even in the ground. Could it be that?"
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Oram Mednix
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

The question of sand is a question of ether/ore

Perdita explained about how books were organized by subject in libraries and universities of other parts of Idalos. She seemed to be widely-traveled. That both impressed and saddened Oram. He was supposedly a “traveler”. He was supposedly a “Sojourn”. And yet, he had seen nothing of the world beyond Scalvoris and a couple of its islands. That had to change, he thought. Of course, if the war against Slag’s Deep went badly, that decision might well end up being made for him.

”You’ve been to Desnind?” he asked the young woman, looking up at her. That surprised him more than the idea that she had been to Viden. ”It’s always sounded like a fascinating place. I might go there some trial, if I get the chance.” He would not ask her to tell him more just then. He had other things to do, and he was imposing on her time as well as using up his own. He spoke of it no more as they went together to look at books on magic.

Looking at the cryptically-titled spines, the hunter was glad he had asked Perdita to help him with this section; he would have been stymied. He nodded thankfully at her when she picked out a book to show him, an introductory text on magic, apparently. What was ether? He had heard the word before, but had never really learned to attach a meaning to it apart from “something vaguely to do with magic and with dreams.” He peered down at the pages that Perdita had opened to, reading slowly.

“Ether is the dream-like potential of Emea,” the text read. What did that mean? “Emea is boundless creativity, the Ether is untasked clay. Disciplines are the crafting hands and magic are the shapes.” ”…and these are the confusing analogies,” he grumbled as he read, scowling and shaking his head. He scanned for something more useful. It took a couple bits. He shot an apologetic glance up at Perdita. She had been a miracle of patience, and he felt guilty for taking her from whatever other tasks she must have.

At length, though, he thought he had found something. He put his finger on it. ”It says that there are Fractures, places where the boundary between Emea and Idalos is thinnest. It says, if I’m understanding right, that ether is more prevalent there, or more easily tapped, or something. Could that be what Smooglenuff was talking about? A Fracture? Would ether cause the sands to be different colors? Would it do that on its own, or would somebody or something have to shape it, since ether is just the…” he frowned down at the page to find the words again: ”…the potential, or the clay?”

He looked back up at the shelves. ”Could there be something here that deals more with ether, or with Fractures?” he asked, as his bespectacled eyes sought those words on the various spines.
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Re: Who is 'Ibid', and why can't I find any of his books? (Perdita, please)

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Player Name: Perdita

Points awarded: 15
Magic xp: none

Knowledge:

7 x Research
2 x Teaching

Renown: 0
Loot: none
Injuries/Overstepping: none
Wealth Points: N/a

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriately to PC's level

Player Name: Oram Mednix


Points awarded: 15
Magic xp: none

Knowledge:

[Discipline] Have patience with yourself when doing something unfamiliar.
[Etiquette] The myriad pitfalls of a “simple” handshake.
[Research] Books sometimes have apparatus, like tables of contents and indices.
[Research] The apparatus, especially the table of contents, can give you a quick idea of whether a book likely contains information you want.
[Research] Libraries and book stores often organize their holdings by standard subjects.
[Research] Planning your research strategy before simply rummaging through books can save time.
[Research] Consult an expert.
[Rhetoric] Confusing analogies are confusing. Don’t use them.
[Writing] Making topical lists.


Renown: 0
Loot: none
Injuries/Overstepping: none
Wealth Points: N/a

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriately to PC's level
Notes: This was an interesting meeting of two very different and yet similar characters. Oram wasn't used to dealing with people, at least in civilized spaces or people he wasn't very familiar with, while Perdita is the shy student that she is.

I found the process of research that Perdita employs to be interesting, and applicable to many other aspects of fact finding. I may use some of her advice in my own pc's investigative efforts! And I really enjoy the way you bring her voice to life. She's very clipped, very brief of speech, probably a way of combating her discomfort in talking to people in general, but it also makes her stand out from other characters.

Oram was an interesting character here too, and I'm sad that the thread was abandoned slightly, just before they were getting into things like Fractures and other fascinating topics. I wonder what else they might've uncovered had they continued their investigation. I really enjoyed the moment of anguish as Oram wrestled with the idea of shaking her hand, wondering if he should be too hard or too limp, or just get on with things and shake her hand normally. It was a very true-to-life moment that makes him very relatable.

Great writing both.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this review, feel free to PM. Enjoy your rewards!
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